Monday, April 14, 2014

Friday the 13th revisited

Seven years ago, the 13th of April fell on a Friday.  It was the day we buried Emily.   This year, the 13th falls on a Sunday.  (hmmm, there's something to think about: 7 is the number of the Lord and Sunday is the Lord's day, hmmm)

Spring is my favorite season.   I love it and I dread it. The memories: April 4th - Emily's 16th birthday,  in the ICU, amidst the ventilator, dialysis, and all those IVs.  April 9th -  the decision to discontinue life support and the day of her death.  April 13th - the funeral. The closing of the casket marked the end of my old self and the beginning of my new self. 

I have walked the dark path of grief.  I've been the "pinball" careening from one emotion to another.  I've been the faker, pasting on the "I'm OK" face while my heart is a stone. I have scolded myself -that "at least it's not..." and imagined all sorts of worse things that could have happened. I've told myself to suck it up, to put on my big girl panties and act like a grown up, to get over it.

And this year, 7 years out, I went to grief group.  And in front of strangers, I bared my soul. To them and to myself.  And this is what I learned.
   Life not an event, but a journey with new experiences
   Never say "At least it's not..."  how diminishing that phrase is
   Don't let anyone 'should' on you
   It's heartbreaking to God, too
   Tears are emotions turned liquid
   Grief is exhausting
   My story is part of that journey
   I have been through some **** (doo-doo), and I am entitled to act like it
   Being selfish is OK - take care of myself
   Balance in everything
   It is what it is
   Even though Emily is not here, she still has a place in my life.
   It's not a closed chapter in the book, it's a new chapter in my story
   Be gentle with others
   Be gentle with myself.
In the 5th meeting of the grief group, I looked around, and instead of seeing strangers, I saw friends.  People who have, without judgement and without advice, have listened, accepted my outpourings. 

But after barren winter,  spring comes and the earth is reborn.
One of my favorite songs is "here comes the sun" by the Beatles

Spring is here.  Memory: every morning, Emily used to pick daffodils to take to school to give to Cayley, her best friend.  Last week, I walked past the house that we used to live in.  It's empty now. I saw the daffodils that Emily used to pick.  I picked some and sent a picture to Cayley. And I dug up some of those daffodils and planted the bulbs at our new home.                                                     

Today is the last gathering of our grief group.  And I will bring Emily's daffodils bulbs to give to the group.  

There's a very different feeling inside me this spring.  I am grateful.  I'm free-er, lighter, happy.  Oh yes, I'm realistic, grief is still a part of me, but today I am happy.

So I will share my new favorite song, but it comes with a warning.  Don't click on this unless you want to "Be Happy"

Friday, March 28, 2014

the Epiphany, 7 years out.

   I've always been an 'uncomfortable in the limelight' kind of gal.  I'm more of a 'behind the camera' rather than 'in front of the camera' kind of person. And I'm a caregiver.  It's my nature, it's who I am.
   The night that Emily was born, there was a sugar packet on my supper tray (and in those days, there were inspirational quotes printed on the sugar packets). The quote of the day read: "If you don't get what you want, think about the things that you didn't want that you didn't get"
   That became ingrained in me.  Any time we encountered an obstacle, I would think "It could be worse."  I learned the phrase  "At least it's not...." and I would imagine a worse case scenario and make myself grateful that it wasn't my experience.  I looked at the cup half full instead of the cup half empty. 
   About 4 months after Emily died, I went to grief group and looked around to find others who were worse off than I was.  I met a couple whose son had died several years earlier and they were stuck in their grief.  I heard others trumping each other's experiences.  I certainly didn't want to become like that. So I piously downplayed my grief and brushed off offers for help.  
   As a nurse in the OB department,  I've helped many parents bring a new baby into their family, most of them alive and healthy.  I have also helped parents whose babies have died.  If I've heard the question "how do you deal with your grief so well?" once, I've heard it a hundred times.  I took pride in being strong.
  Last year, I became certified in perinatal loss care. During the study for this certification, I learned alot about loss and grief and came to understand myself  better.  This year, I am involved in setting up a Perinatal Hospice Program in our hospital.  I decided that I'd better make sure that I personally was in a solid place before I tried to counsel other parents in their grief journey. 
  I joined a 6-week grief group.  The epiphany started in session number two.   I accepted that it is OK, 7 years later,  for me to still grieve.  I can be "selfish" (that's the way I viewed it) and take care of myself, too.
   In the third week, the epiphany continued.  I have been through some SHIT! (sorry for that word, but I can't seem to find anything else that fits how I feel right now)  I wonder how I can be such a good caregiver to everyone else, but not to myself? Even the Word tell us to "Love thy neighbor AS, JUST LIKE, you love yourself." 
   Here's another thing I learned in group: BALANCE.  Everything in balance.  Certainly, I'm not going to run around having a pity party for myself, or go around being publically morose and draw attention to myself at inappropriate times.  But I am going to honor my own story.  I am going to acknowledge that even though there are other people out there with worse shit than mine,  I HAVE BEEN THROUGH SOME SHIT, some really bad shit.  And I am going to be kind to myself.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Making Memories, Making keepsakes.

This page has ideas of activities to do to honor the life and death of your loved one, and it has links to websites or blogs that have good ideas.  It is my hope that these ideas may make your journey easier.   -  blown glass with ashes incorporated in the object.   beautiful.